Ele's Elite

Latest Posts

Geneology of Morals

In On the Genealogy of Morals, Friedrich Nietzsche attempts to find the significance of the values people hold; he describes a value as a guideline for existence. Nietzsche determines that there are both positive (life-affirming) and negative (life-repressing) values.   He also says that people can be evaluated using either a moralistic evaluation (good vs. evil) or a physiological evaluation (good vs. bad).  Nietzsche then categorizes all people into three categories: the nobles, the slaves, and the priestly.

The noble can be characterized as spontaneous, active, and naive.  The noble sees everything as a challenge that will give him the opportunity to assert himself further.  He lives by the quote, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Nietzsche evaluates the noble moralistically.  He says that the noble creates his own values based on what feels good and what feels bad.  Activities that are self-assertive feel good to the noble, and activities that are self-repressive feel bad to the noble.  When the noble establishes his own values, he does not rely on outside influences, like opinions or recognition from other people.  The noble is truly independent and is associated with strength.  Unfortunately, he is very individualistic and full of himself, and therefore, is lonely.  There is no true example of a noble in existence.

The slave is the opposite of the noble.  He can be characterized as intelligent and clever; these attributes compensate for his physical inability to assert himself.  Nietzsche evaluates the slave physiologically.  The slave upholds self-repressive values as good; he believes in selflessness.  For the slave, compassion, generosity, selflessness, and philanthropy are examples of what is good.  Reaction is what is evil to the slave.  The slave is led by resentment.  He blames others to make himself feel better, especially the noble, to whom he imposes guilt.  The slave is the definition of a follower; he cannot make his own way because he needs constant reassurance.  The slave has a mass mentality, meaning that he feels most comfortable in numbers.  An example of a slave is a member of a church because church members follow the guidance of a priest.  The slaves are crucial to the priestly individuals, who need them to maintain their leadership role.

The priestly individual is a leader who needs followers to function.  The priestly individual develops life conditions that are void of both pleasure and enjoyment, which is why they are also known as ascetic priests.  The priestly individual wants to assert himself in order to get recognition for his work.  His power is completely based on a feeling of dependency.  Without followers, the priestly individual cannot be a leader.  The priestly individual lives by the ascetic ideal, meaning that he believes in postponed enjoyment.  The best example of a priestly individual is a priest.  A priest convinces his followers that they must absolve their sins in order to get into Heaven, in an attempt to make them dependent upon him.  He preaches that the worldly things we lack now will be ours in the future, when we enter the kingdom of God.

Dives in Misericordia

Dives in Misericordia begins by stating that God is “rich in mercy”, by His revelation and, particularly, through the Incarnation.

Christ reveals that we can be forgiven for our sins, which shows his mercy. By revealing Christ to us and having him die for us, we see that God is merciful because he has made the ultimate sacrifice by giving his Son to help man.  Through the Incarnation of Christ, humans can live eternal life in Heaven; this merciful act is an offering of salvation.

What is the concept of “mercy” in the Old Testament? How is the parable of the prodigal son analogous to God’s mercy toward human persons?

In the Old Testament, “mercy” seems to be synonymous with “divinity.”  Christ personifies mercy; Christ is mercy.  This idea allows us to see God as being close to man, especially in man’s suffering and pain.  Also, the idea of mercy is usually linked to the idea of sin.  God forgives us of our sins because he is loving and merciful.  The parable of the prodigal son is analogous to God’s mercy toward human persons because God welcomes us back into his loving arms every time we sin, as long as we are truly sorry.  The love and mercy of the father in the story symbolizes the love and mercy of God.  When the son comes home after squandering his part of the inheritance, his father welcomes him with open arms.  The father realizes that his son’s humanity has been saved, and he loves his son as if he had never left.

Kreeft’s Moral Absolutes

Are there any moral absolutes?

From a Catholic standpoint, yes, there are moral absolutes.  Three examples are Beneficence (doing good), Nonmaleficence (not doing bad), and Respect for Autonomy (everyone should be treated and respected as an individual).

Can one be moral without God?

Man cannot be moral without God.  God created natural law, which serve as a basis for our thoughts.  At times, we may not be able to verbalize why we feel something is wrong, but there is probably a natural law behind that gut feeling.  God is good.  Without God, we cannot be good.  The same goes for morality.  People may disagree on a specific ethical or moral question, but there is an underlying ethical or moral law, which God has already instituted that can be used to answer the question.

In chapter 8, Kreeft sets up four premises against legalized abortion

The four premises are religious, ethical, scientific, and legal.  Abortion is wrong on religious grounds because it kills.  Abortion is wrong on ethical grounds because killing is unethical.  Abortion is wrong on scientific grounds because the fetus is a human being, which the act kills.  Legally, the law is supposed to protect human rights, so abortion should not be legal (it kills humans).

Kreeft discusses the values of “truth” and communication. He looks at 4 truth-crucial areas.

One big area is images.   Things like watching TV and movies is replacing books.  This cuts into our creativity and requires far less brain power, which hurts us in the end.  Our choices are supposed to be made by logical reasoning, which cannot take place without brain power.  Another big area is music.  Music has power on the human soul.  Music has changed for the worse; it’s not all evil, it is moving toward evil (some music).  The problem is that music is part of life.  If we actually believe what some songs say, like rap for example, that’s not good for us.

Today’s Different

Today, I’m going to take a break from my normal religion and philosophy writing because I want to share something that happened to me recently.

After my 5 years of traveling to learn about different religions, which you may have read about on my about page, I settled down in NYC.  It was the obvious choice at the time.  After experiencing so many different cultures abroad, how could I not come back to the one place in the country that has a little piece of all of it in one spot.  I lived in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.  I know what you’re thinking – ritzy.  It was a nice place, but I got a great deal on it and split it with a friend.  We did enjoy it for a while.  Nice restaurants were close, the air was cleaner than the normal city air, and because it was a more expensive area, the crime was lower.  It was fun, but I wanted to go somewhere a little bit closer to where I grew up in Massachusetts, which is when I moved to Boston.

I bought a nice 3 bedroom, one story home in Boston, Massachusetts after searching for months to find the perfect one.  It was almost like the “American Dream” home.  It was off-white with a white front porch, gray shutters, and a white picket fence out in the front yard.  I even had the white mailbox to go with it.  I think the only I was probably missing was the milkman, but those days are long gone.  Inside, the floors were all hardwood, granite counter-tops, GE appliances, and furniture from all over the place.  I shouldn’t say that.  The furniture was from the states, but the kinds of furniture and inspiration came from the different countries I’ve been to.  I tried to incorporate the colors and feel of different countries in my furniture and I think I did a pretty good job of it.

white house

This isn’t my house, but it does show the color.  Unfortunately, I don’t have a single picture of it.  I promise to get on that and add it to this post at some point.  Regardless, I love this place…or at least I did.  Last weekend, we had a bad rainstorm.  I was watching the weather on the local news and the weatherman was predicting heavy rains and high wind, atypical for this location in my experience.  Personally, I think a job as a weatherman is the only one where you can be wrong half the time and still get paid, but that’s a rant for another time.  He was correct in his guess on the weather and the rain started coming down very heavily.  That’s when my basement started to flood.  The house was beautiful, but it was already “aged” we’ll say when I purchased it.  The foundation of the house apparently wasn’t very good, and water started pouring in all over the place.  It also didn’t help that it was late at night, so I couldn’t see anything without the lights on.  I was running up and down the stairs like a mad person trying to drain the water out, but I just couldn’t keep up with it.  It was like a sinking ship.  That’s when I called Newton Fire and Flood to fix it. I’ve never had anything like this happen before, but of course, I know people who have, and that company was their recommendation.  Their building is apparently only a few miles away from me.  It was an emergency call – I called in a panic – and they came over faster than I expected to help me.  There was a lot of water damage because so much had flown in through the foundation, cracks, and crevasses.  All of my furniture in the basement was ruined, but there’s nothing anyone could have done about that.  They removed all the water and cleaned up the whole basement in a matter of hours.  Their service went way above and beyond what I expected and I’m just thankful that they were able to get to me so quickly.  I’ve also learned my lesson about an older house.  I’m planning to move again in a couple years, and next time around, I’ll be paying closer attention to how the house may hold up in a freak situation like what happened this time.  I think God was looking out for me this time.

Philosophy Made Easy

Sartre is my favorite philosopher. He is relatively easy to understand and his ideas make a sense to me. Sartre’s statement that “existence precedes essence” is the foundation for existentialism. It basically means that you are what you do and that there is nothing at the basis of human existence but freedom. I don’t completely agree with this idea.

I believe that we are born with certain inclinations toward everything and that we can be molded by outside influences, like parents, friends, teachers, or really anyone. As for our inborn inclinations, I am going to use myself as an example. I have always been somewhat of an introvert. I was always shy around everyone until I got to know them better and grew more comfortable around them. Sartre believes that I was born completely free, which would mean that I could have made the decision of who I wanted to be and how I wanted to act around people. As a child, I don’t remember having those choices. I remember feeling shy and not knowing why I felt that way.
I believe that I was born with an inclination toward being introverted. Because of this, I feel that children are not absolutely free; this is mainly because of the fact that the mind of a child is not capable of making the decisions Sartre talks about. I believe that Sartre’s statement that “existence precedes essence” is partially true for people who are old enough to make decisions for themselves. As I’ve grown older, I’ve made the choice to try to be more outgoing, but I am naturally inclined to do the opposite, so it’s difficult for me. I can’t help that I feel shy around people, I just do. I can choose to put myself in a situation that is outside my comfort level in an attempt to make myself more extroverted, but I will always have my natural inclinations to contend with. This is why I don’t completely agree with Sartre.

As for my second statement, that we have no choice as to whether we are molded by outside influences, Sartre would agree with me. Do we really have a choice as to whether or not we are affected by something we experience? As children, I don’t think that we have a choice as to whether or not we are influenced by our upbringing, our environment, or anything else. Once again, I feel that we are not yet old enough to decide whether or not something or someone affects us. When we are old enough to make decisions on our own, we can’t choose whether or not someone or something affects us. We can only choose how much it affects us. For example, if I am held up at gun point, it’s going to have an affect on me whether I like it or not. When it’s over (provided that I am alive), I can decide to how much I am going to let it affect me. I may think about what happened and decide that it’s no big deal, or I may freak out and decide that I need a body guard with me at all times for my protection. I guess that the amount that something affects you depends on the mental strength of the person.

In conclusion, I believe that people are born with natural inclinations and can choose whether or not to go with them when they are old enough. I also believe that the amount of effect that something has on you is determined by the mental strength of the person and their choice as to how much it will affect them.